Tamil Nadu

Justice Chandru's Anti-Casteism Measures For Schools Can Prevent Nanguneri-Like Incidents, But Can DMK Govt Deliver On Them?

S Rajesh

Jun 19, 2024, 03:12 PM | Updated 03:39 PM IST

Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M K Stalin.
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M K Stalin.

Almost a year after the brutal attack on two Scheduled Caste children in Tirunelveli’s Nanguneri by children of a dominant caste group, a one-man committee of retired Madras High Court Justice K Chandru, which was appointed by the state government, has submitted its recommendations to curb casteism in schools and educational institutions.

In August 2023, a boy studying in class 11 and his younger sister were severely assaulted with sickles by a group of three students who intruded into their home at night. The siblings suffered grievous injuries to their hands, shoulders and thighs. The attack happened after the boy reportedly refused to give in to their harassment, which included being forced to buy cigarettes, snacks and bus tickets.

According to a report by The Hindu about the findings of a fact-finding mission which visited the area after the incident, the dominant castes use colours like red and yellow in their attire and the posters that they put up. The colours used by Dalits are red and green. 

Some of the suggestions made by the committee are — removing caste names from schools, prohibiting coloured wristbands, rings, or forehead marks that may indicate their caste, not mentioning the caste in attendance registers and having specific legislation to fix duties and responsibilities of the students, staff and management.

Political observers say that while the recommendations could help in reducing the caste feelings among students, and by doing so, prevent incidents like the one that happened in Nanguneri, the report could also lead to demands for a similar prohibition of the hijab, as it too could potentially create divisive feelings.

Further, it has to be seen whether the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government will be able to actually implement these recommendations, as casteism has continued in the state in spite of all the talk of ‘Dravidian model’ and social justice. 

The inability of the state machinery to nab the accused in the Vengaivayal case (in which faeces were found in a water tank used by Dalits), even after the passage of around one and a half years since the incident, is considered to be one of its biggest failures.

Also in most cases, the accused belong to dominant castes, who are the party’s main support base, making it tricky for the government to take action against them.

The DMK might have to go beyond its rhetoric on social justice to deliver on these recommendations, and it's not entirely clear if the party is willing to do so.

Also Read: Nanguneri Caste Crime: Hindu Dharmacharyas Must Step In To Douse Flames Lit By Cinema And Politics

Maamannan: How Dravidian Ecosystem Usurps The Dalit Narrative

S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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